You know that scene from Alien (and Spaceballs, for that matter) where the alien pops out of the guy’s stomach? I’m not sure about other women, but I often felt like that would happen to me whenever my sons would give me a quick, hard kick during pregnancy. Well, it turns out that sci-fi movies aren’t the only places where such things can occur. At least to some extent.
A 33-year-old woman who went for her routine 22-week ultrasound got a bit of a surprise. Her baby’s legs appeared to be kicking straight out of her uterus and into her abdomen, despite having no previous symptoms.
Upon further examination, the New England Journal of Medicine reported and tweeted, doctors learned that her uterus had suffered a one-inch tear. As a result, her amniotic sac (which holds the baby and the amniotic fluid) had protruded through the hole, right along with her baby’s feet. The expectant mother had experienced five previous pregnancies, all of which had resulted in C-section births. The area where the uterus had been sutured and developed a scar was strong. But the areas near the scars on her uterus had weakened, resulting in this unfortunate tear.
— NEJM (@NEJM) December 23, 2016
The Huffington Post reports:
Upon discovering the woman’s uterine tear and protruding amniotic sac, the doctors informed the woman and her husband of the potential risks, which included additional uterine tearing, preterm birth and a serious pregnancy complication called placenta accreta, in which the placenta doesn’t detach from the uterine wall after birth.
It was also possible for the amniotic sac to rupture, [Dr. Pierre-Emmanue] Bouet said. If this occurred, the doctors would make sure that the fetus still had a heartbeat, and if so, would perform an emergency C-section, Bouet said. The doctors would also have to consider the age of the fetus: if it was too early in the pregnancy, the odds of survival would be lower, he said.
The woman and her husband decided to continue the pregnancy with close monitoring, according to the report. Bouet said that the woman was not put on bed rest during this time, and that she could do some moderate walking.
By 30 weeks, it was discovered that this mom’s tear had increased in size (by a full 2 inches) and that the safest and smartest decision would be to deliver her pre-term baby boy by yet another C-section. Despite weighing only about three pounds, her son was healthy, and the new mom was released from the hospital after five days.
While this case is extremely rare, it isn’t the only one of its kind. It turns out that 26 other such cases of uterine tearing (and amniotic sac protrusion) have been documented. While we joke that our babies’ kicks often feel like their feet are going to pop right through our abdomens, it turns out that it isn’t impossible!
When doctors checked in on this family six months after birth, they were all doing just fine.